Middle-Aged Men: Is There Anything They Can’t Do?

I am reading a new book on tips for entrepreneurs called Burn the Business Plan: What Great Entrepreneurs Really Do. From the description:

“The evangelist of entrepreneurship” (The Economist) reveals the true stories about how a range of entrepreneurs created their successful start-ups: hint, many of them never began with a business plan.

Business schools teach that the most important prerequisite for starting a business is a business plan. Nonsense, says Carl Schramm in Burn the Business Plan, who for a decade headed the most important foundation devoted to entrepreneurship in this country. Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, and Google are just a few of the companies that began without one.

Schramm explains that the importance of a business plan is only one of the many misconceptions about starting a company. Another is the myth of the kid genius—that all entrepreneurs are young software prodigies. In fact, the average entrepreneur is thirty-nine years old and has worked in corporate America for at least a decade. Schramm discusses why people with work experience in corporate America have an advantage as entrepreneurs. For one thing, they often have important contacts in the business world who may be customers for their new service or product. For another, they often have the opportunity to strategize with knowledgeable people and get valuable advice.

Burn the Business Plan tells stories of successful entrepreneurs in a variety of fields. It shows how knowledge, passion, determination, and a willingness to experiment and innovate are vastly more important than financial skill. This is an important, motivating look at true success that dispels the myths and offers invaluable real-world advice on how to achieve your dreams.

One of the most popular of these myths as mentioned above is that entrepreneurs are mostly “Silicon Valley startup wonder kids” but this is untrue:

“The average entrepreneur is nearly forty years old when he [my emphasis] launches and more than eighty percent of all new companies are started by people over thirty-five.

Not only are most entrepreneurs middle-aged, but entrepreneurs are getting older, and fast. Twenty years ago, people twenty-five to thirty-five started twice as many companies are they do today. Now more entrepreneurs are between forty-five and fifty-five than any other age group. Interestingly, entrepreneurs over fifty-five now create more companies than those under thirty-five. And, more importantly, the probability of success of a new company surviving rises with the age of the entrepreneur.

Women do head startups but only 17% of the time according to this data. So next time you hear that someone doesn’t want an “old guy” involved in technology or a start-up, just know that the company will probably be less successful because of their ageism and sexism. Serves them right.